ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0028  18 May 2008
HE Events Diary

Opportunities Jobs

Changing student tastes affect universities the world over. In this edition we report on a move away from IT in Australia and Ireland, toward the creative arts in New Zealand, and toward vocational courses in the UK. See this week's Special Report.

The world's youngest professor, Ali Sabur, takes up her new job next week. See this week's Feature story on helping highly intelligent children reach their potential.

Rock Brynner, the son of Hollywood legend Yul Brynner and a professor at Conneticut State University is the subject of the profile in this week's People section. Photo: Nick Holdsworth


GLOBAL: Disasters strike Burma and China

Burmese children in a refugee camp on the Burma-Thai border. Photo: Eli Vajra Greig

Tens of thousands of children and adults have been killed by the cyclone and earthquake disasters that stuck Burma and China. Universities and schools have been damaged and those in the affected areas shut down. In the following two news stories, China correspondent Michael Delaney reports on the situation facing universities in Sichuan while in Melbourne a student at RMIT University is holding a photographic exhibition this week to raise funds to assist Burmese refugees.

CHINA: Sichuan universities hit by quake
Michael Delaney
In the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake, with casualties in the tens of thousands and rising, some local universities have mobilised to assist recovery efforts, while others require aid themselves. University activities in the disaster area remain suspended, and the number of teachers and students from the province's universities injured or killed has yet to be determined.
Full report on the University World News site

BURMA: Exhibition to help refugees
In Melbourne, a student at RMIT University is helping raise funds for Burmese refugees through an exhibition of haunting photographs taken during his travels to refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border.
Full report on the University World News site

SPECIAL REPORT: Changing student tastes

Fashion, fads and the harsh world of work are among the many factors that influence students to choose a particular course at university. As our special report shows, in Ireland and Australia students have been turning away from IT although jobs are now plentiful. Then there is a surprising regeneration of interest in the arts and creative courses in New Zealand. By contrast, in the UK young people are finding vocational courses more attractive as they want well paid jobs to pay for ever-mounting debts caused by rising fees.

Students are also looking for more than just good teaching, or a reputation as a cool place to study. They want added value for their money: a chance to gain employability skills by volunteering or gaining placements in commerce and industry, for example. In Israel, meantime, government cuts are forcing universities to abolish courses while Russia is facing a demographic time-bomb leaving its institutions with too few students. All of which will keep universities around the world on their competitive toes.

UK: A route to a job
Diane Spencer
British students are turning to the sciences, engineering and vocational courses at the expense of humanities and social sciences. This trend is in line with the Labour Government's drive to see universities treating employability as a "core part of their mission".
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Work looms large for undergraduates
Geoff Maslen
Manifold factors affect the choices students make when they enrol in a university and are not just dependent on the students themselves. Academic interest in a particular course and idealism may play a role but family attitudes, peer group pressure and even popular culture – such as the growing interest in forensic science – are also important. Clearly, however, the desire for a well paid position in business or industry looms large in the minds of many students.
Full report on the University World News site

Ireland: Students shun key subjects
John Walshe
Irish government agencies are concerned about the decline in applications for computing and engineering courses in recent years. Awareness campaigns have done little to reverse the trend although enrolment in science programmes is just about holding its own. The trend is worrying because of the importance of graduates from these disciplines in one of the world's most open economies, which has attracted much foreign direct investment into the computing and pharmaceutical industries.
Full report on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: Art rises while education falls
John Gerritsen*
The number of New Zealanders studying bachelor degrees rose by 5% between 1999 and 2006, with the creative arts and health the main beneficiaries of that growth. Ministry of Education figures show that more than 96,000 full-time equivalent students were studying at undergraduate level in 2006, 4,600 more than in 1999. In between, undergraduate student numbers rose to a peak of 98,000 full-time equivalents before falling back slightly.
Full report on the University World News site

ISRAEL: Students face course closures
Helena Flusfeder
The number of professors at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has been slashed by 200 over the last 10 years and administrative staff by 400 from a total of 1,600 in the last five years. Cuts in the higher education budget of NIS1.2 billion (US$300 million) over the last seven years have left students at Israeli universities facing a closure of departments and even schools.
Full report on the University World News site

RUSSIA: Demographic time bomb empties colleges
Helen Womack
Russian universities and colleges are expecting a 30% slump in applications for next year and in some regions students may be accepted virtually without entrance examinations. A decline in the birth rate in the difficult decade of the 1990s, when the late President Boris Yeltsin introduced economic shock therapy, is starting to be felt now – with fewer young people.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

US: Foreign students face higher visa costs
Arlene Cherwin
A plan by the American Department of Homeland Security to double visa fees for foreign students seeking to study in the US has raised concern among colleges that the increased cost may cause a decline in enrolments.
Full report on the University World News site

CHINA: Beijing cancels anthropology congress
Michael Delaney
An international anthropology conference to be held in Beijing has been suddenly cancelled at the behest of Chinese authorities. The first academic meeting to be so affected, the world congress of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, is one of a number of events, seen as potentially disruptive, to be blocked in the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games. The Olympics are the focus of great national pride and any major slip-ups could damage the government's authority.
Full report on the University World News site

GREECE: Anger over short sharp shock remarks
Makki Marseilles
A series of provocative remarks by Greek Education Secretary Evripidis Stylianidis, indicative of his intentions to proceed with unpopular reforms at a particularly sensitive time, have ended the relatively mild climate currently prevailing in higher education and caused a sharp reaction among the academic community.
Full report on the University World News site


AUSTRALIA: Budget disappoints academics and students
In its annual budget handed down last Tuesday, the federal government failed to meet the expectations of academics and students. The government, however, has abolished a unique $6 billion (US$5.64 billion) investment fund set up last year by the former conservative government and then replaced it with its own $11 billion ‘education endowment fund’.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Public health ‘whistleblowers’ recognised
A leading microbiologist at the University of California at Berkeley and a campaigning journalist are among a group of public health 'whistleblowers' who were to be recognised in Washington DC last week for their work in exposing fraud in AIDS research.
Full report on the University World News site


UK: Academics accused of reviving Israel boycott
Jonathan Travis
Academics from the Universities and College Union have been accused of attempting to revive the intensely controversial academic boycott of Israel by calling for lecturers to consider their links with Israeli institutions and lobby contacts over the Israeli occupation.
Full report on the University World News site


From Giles Pickford
University World News is a unique service to the university community because it is the only medium which brings us global news about our vocation. I value this service. I cannot find fault with the editorial part of the enterprise, but here are some ideas from an old public relations hack about improving the web site.
Full letter on the University World News site


TURKEY: University earns 52% of revenue from research
Brendan O'Malley
A Turkish state university has found a way to avoid struggling with funding problems by earning 52% of its revenue from research projects. The Turkish Daily News reports that Anadolu University, based in the central Anatolian province of Eskisehir, has 5,000 employees and out-performs most businesses in the region: its annual income of Turkish Lira 200 million (US$176 million) is beaten by only one company in the province.
Full report on the University World News site

EU: €4 million for nanotechnology
Alan Osborn
An international organisation dedicated to promoting the widespread commercial and industrial potential of nanotechnology is to be established with the help of the European Commission. The commission is providing €4 million funding from its wealthy Seventh Framework Programme research budget to set up and run a European Observatory on Nanotechnologies.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Boost for OU from global charity
Diane Spencer
Britain's distance learning pioneer, the Open University, has been awarded Ł600,000 (US$1.16 million) by a global charity – the Lloyd's Register Educational Trust – to fund a new chair in materials engineering and fabrication.
Full report on the University World News site


US: World's youngest professor
Geoff Maslen
Alia Sabur is the world's youngest professor. Indeed, New York-born Sabur was three days short of her 19th birthday in February when she was offered a professorship in the department of advanced technology fusion at Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea, as part of a likely research liaison with Stony Brook University in New York.
Full report on the University World News site


AUSTRALIA: Internationalising the curriculum
Curriculum internationalisation is a strategy adopted by many universities as they prepare their graduates for employment in the global economy, write Glenda Crosling, Ron Edwards and Bill Schroder in the Journal of higher education policy and management. In a case study of organisational change involved in attempts by Monash University to implement curriculum internationalisation in six disciplines in the Faculty of Business and Economics – which encompasses five Australian and two offshore campuses and three families of degrees – they found that while the multi-campus structure presents an opportunity, a challenge is the number and geographic dispersion of lecturers along with differing academic cultures. “We identify significant staff and faculty issues requiring consideration in the change that accompanies curriculum development, such as the powerful effect of the traditional notion of academic autonomy, and the need for continued resources to support the changes”.
More on the University World News site


RUSSIA: War, revolution – and an academic search
Nick Holdsworth
It is an epic adventure of high seas piracy, empire building, political intrigue, Russian royalty, war and revolution, exile, Hollywood fame... and academic endeavour. Now, 80 years after his father fled Bolshevik terror, Hollywood legend Yul Brynner's son Rock – a history and politics professor at Connecticut State University – is a regular visitor to the Russian city of Vladivostok, birthplace of his actor father famed the world over for his title role in The King and I.
Full report on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

CANADA: Pets inspire abused women to fight on
Monica Dobie
A Canadian academic has shown how women trapped in abusive relationships often find the will to keep living because of the need to care for their dogs. Dr Amy Fitzgerald, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada, said field research has shown the need to care for their animals actually helped prevent women from committing suicide.
Full report on the University World News site


CANADA: Disclosing critical health information
Personal health information can be disclosed in emergency situations, say two of Canada’s privacy commissioners, MacLeans reports. The issue recently arose when the family of 18-year-old Carleton University student Nadia Kajouji blamed the Ottawa university for failing to do enough to inform them of her depression or prevent her suicide.
More on the University World News site

US: Compromise over higher education act
A small group of US senators and representatives and their staffs are working at breakneck speed with the hope that Congress can wrap up its work by Memorial Day on compromise legislation to renew the Higher Education Act, reports Inside Higher Ed. But if a draft of the bill that is being circulated this week is any indication, numerous major issues remain unresolved and the measure, as currently written, could be a nightmare for colleges and the Education Department to carry out.
More on the University World News site

US: Students fail – professor loses job
Who is to blame when students fail? If many students fail – a majority even – does that demonstrate faculty incompetence, or could it point to a problem with standards? asks Scott Jaschik in Insider Higher Ed. These are the questions at the centre of a dispute that cost Steven D Aird his job teaching biology at Norfolk State University. On his way out, he has started to tell his story – one that he suggests points to large educational problems at the university and in society.
More on the University World News site

CZECH: Minister reveals plans to overhaul universities
Czech universities can expect big changes, reports Radio Prague. Last week Education Minister Ondřej Liška presented a ‘white paper’ proposing sweeping reforms of the country’s higher education system, including a complete restructuring of the way Czech universities are funded – which could eventually lead to tuition fees – and calls for universities to cooperate more with the private sector. The plans are now up for public discussion until autumn, when new laws will be drafted.
More on the University World News site

UK: Teach online to compete, universities told
Universities should make their course materials freely available online, according to a paper for the latest edition of ppr, the publication of influential think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research. The researcher and activist Leo Pollak argues that UK universities lag behind in providing course materials online but could innovate more than their US competitors, reports the Education Guardian.
More on the University World News site

UK: Students ‘told to lie’ to boost rankings
Two senior lecturers have been caught telling students to lie in order to boost their college’s ranking in crucial government-backed league tables, reports The Telegraph. Fiona Barlow-Brown and Fred Vallee-Tourangeau, psychology lecturers at Kingston University, were recorded urging undergraduates to give Kingston a glowing report in the National Student Survey, which measures how satisfied students are with their courses.
More on the University World News site

N IGERIA: More than a million to sit university entrance exam
More than a million candidates were due to sit the Universities Matriculation Examination on 17 May at 1,979 centres across N igeria and in five foreign countries – a whopping 15% increase over last year as demand for higher education escalates – reports Leadership. The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board announced stringent security plans to keep the examination fraud-free.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Institute paves way for Africa's Einstein
The next Einstein is in the pre-primary class of a township school about 100 kilometres from Cape Town and will need the help of the Muizenberg-based Aims (African Institute of Mathematical Sciences) if she is to achieve her full potential. Physics Nobel laureate for 2004 David Gross made this hypothetical prediction last weekend in support of Aims's Einstein Initiative, which seeks to recruit and nurture the brightest maths and science graduates on the African continent, reports the Cape Times.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: University hotel to meet tourism need
The University of Johannesburg plans to build a teaching and training hotel to tackle the growing need for tourism and hospitality managers, reports the Mail & Guardian. An 2007 audit of skills revealed that 8,000 tourism and hospitality managers will be needed in the next three years. The hotel will help students to integrate the theory and practice of conferencing, food and beverage services and accommodation management – and grow the university’s capacity to host lecturers and students from around the world.
More on the University World News site

TURKEY: New entrance testing for would-be students
The president of the Higher Education Board has announced plans to introduce a new testing system for students seeking to pursue higher education in Turkey, reports Today’s Zaman. Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, Professor Yusuf Ziya Özcan said the plan includes a test that would be offered several times each year, instead of the current system of holding an annual Student Selection Examination.
More on the University World News site

BANGLADESH: University research in a sorry state
Lack of funding and well qualified teachers is undermining research in Bangladesh, reports the Daily Star. The University Grants Commission, or UGC, is supposed to award 12 scholars a year for outstanding research. But as little quality research is being conducted at public or private universities, only 20 lecturers have been honoured in the four years since 2002, according to a UGC publication.
More on the University World News site


CANADA: Dean, Faculty of International Education
Malaspina University-College, British Columbia
Full specifications on the University World News site
Copyright University World News 2007-2008